The Hacker: Sad when we can only push trolleys round supermarkets

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The Independent Online

The devil makes work for idle hands to do and I've seen more hackers pushing trolleys around Tesco over the past week than I normally see on the golf course – and they are not very good at letting people through there, either.

Obviously, there are far more seriously inconvenienced victims of the Arctic weather than golfers but spare a thought for those, mainly of the grumpy and old variety, who are being denied their regular trundles down the fairways.

Not only have they been robbed of all the fresh air and fun to be had at the golf club, they have been snaffled for other duties like Christmas shopping and the like.

Normally, when the course is closed for the odd day, the wise golfers can fail to impart that fact to those at home and spend the day at the club anyway, happily whiling away the time with a few games of snooker and a pint or two. But, with the whole country under a blanket of snow, there is no possibility of such subterfuge and all we can do is pray that a thaw comes before the sales get under way.

Christmas Day is not usually a time to play golf. The odd golfer might turn up to try out a new club he unwrapped that morning, but not under the present conditions – unless he also had some red balls among his presents.

But today would have been busy. At Glamorganshire we make up for the previous day's inactivity with a Boxing Day cross-country tournament. Starting from the first hole to the fourth, we criss-cross the course for nine holes, some of them 800 or so yards long, traversing hedges, ditches and three-lines as we go. As it's foursomes, each player has to face some very tricky shots and be able to hit the ball straight and long.

It doesn't sound as if it suits my type of game but I once won it playing with a two-handicapper. We didn't even need my shots because we won it with our gross score. I've never played as well before or since so it is by far my favourite competition.

As if missing that isn't bad enough, there is no chance we'll play the Egg Cup tomorrow, either. It's Arwyn's birthday and the only way he can get anyone to come to his party is to organise a tournament with sausage and mash afterwards – an act of seasonal generosity spoiled only by the fact that we have to pay.

With Royal Porthcawl also snowbound, and the Sparrows grounded, golf withdrawal symptoms are kicking in. I'm bored with chipping air-balls on to the sofa and the putting game called the "Potty Putter" I received as a Christmas present is not working.

It enables you to practise while on the toilet and comes with a green carpet of the sort seen at miniature courses, a plastic putter, two balls, a cup and a flag, and a "do not disturb" notice for the bathroom door handle.

I think I'll sit this one out. One thing to be said in favour of golfers is that there's nothing too daft to buy us.

One of the more worrying aspects of the icy spell is the effect it is going to have on the winter leagues. Ours is due to restart on Sunday 9 January and because there is no activity at the club there are not many entries.

In the first half up to Christmas, there was a shortfall in the numbers playing. We play foursomes with a shotgun start and with two games on each hole we can accommodate 144.

But we were about 30 short in the last session and look like being even more understrength for the next time.

There was a time when we were oversubscribed for every session. But in those days, supermarkets weren't open on Sundays and neither were B&Q and the other retail outlets. Now that there is so much more competition for a man's services on a Sunday morning, we don't want a prolonged cold snap to get our hackers earmarked for other duties.

Tip of the week

No 81: Turn fast for clubhead speed

The biggest mistake that I see golfers make when they try to hit the ball further is a physically aggressive move from the top.

They either try to "pull down" or "hit at" the ball so hard. It's all done with the arms and hands, and they forget to use the body and legs.

If you want to hit the ball further, from the top of your backswing, just think about driving your right knee into the back of your left knee (for right-handed golfers).

This will encourage your hips to turn faster, and use the bigger muscles to drive the ball longer distances. Use the power from your legs to really drive through the ball.

You should find that you will finish with more weight on your left side and with a fuller follow-through.

Simon Iliffe is head professional at Bramley Golf Club, Surrey.